2007!!! Damn that seems like a long time ago.
Well, I suppose it's 2008 now. And before I get into what made me super frothing wet in 2007 I want to tell you that 2008 is already shaping up to be a contender. New sludginess from 5ive and Lento. Stoner indie pop gems from Black Mountain. And A Silver Mount Zions ab-soul-ute best album yet. Surely people will balk at such an idea. But its okay, you just don't know it yet. New Boris albums, new stuff from Ampere, supposedly.
Also, an addendum slash correction. Theres an album on this list that I now feel differently about. Radioheads In Rainbows. Its good. Don't get me wrong. But I've since heard about 3 or 4 albums that easily surpass Radiohead's latest effort. I had already made the mixes and I didnt feel like going back and changing them, so they suffice for what they are; a glimpse of some of my favorite albums from '07.
Please be aware that A) I didnt hear everything that was released this year, as is evidenced by my revocation of Radiohead on the list. B) My list is not numerically based for any other reason than for me to keep a count. With that said, what's at the top of the list is better than what's at the bottom, but what's at 5 isn't necessarily worse than what's at 1. and 3) or C) I listened to alot of music this year that wasnt from this decade. And with that said, the Shotmaker / Max Colby split is still better than almost anything on this blog. and 13 songs and Blood Sweat and No Tears basically run circles around the best this year has to offer.... ahh. sweet digression.
Here is the list.1. Caspian - The Four TreesPost-Rockish, with a bit more rock than post. This is a welcome idea.
Greatness, greatness, greatness. You had to have come across this if you listen to good music. Uplifting, awakening and shimmering with inner life, this band is the goods. They record well and they kill live. Walls of sound man, walls of sound.
2. Baroness - The Red AlbumProgressive Sludge Metal Sabbath Maiden Metal Freakout Meltdown Metal.
Did I mention this shit is metal? Im talking galloping horses, riders of the apocalypse metal, but no, no, no, not power metal. They dont wield swords, they wield giant clubs of doom leaving trails of swirling smoke eddies. This album grew like wildfire on me and I still find new things to like about. A solid album and another killer live show.3. Iron & Wine - The Shepherds DogYeah, so what, I listen to folk music. I wear pink too. Real men wear pink
Sam Beams best album. The orchestration gives it a lush feel and the variety of song structures keeps the album from falling into the self exiled murk that so much folk falls into. Sams voice is incredible and his words truly ring with heart-string- pulling emotion. You want to talk "emo". Yeah, what the fuck does that word even mean? This is the most emotional record I've heard in years. Perfect summertime drives upstate with this in the deck.4. Grails - Burning Off The ImpuritiesMind bending psychedelic rock.
I went to see this band twice last year, and each time was different, and they practically ruined live shows for me. If hardcore didn't exist, Grails would've officially been one of the best live shows I've seen. Ever. Both times. The eastern feel of these songs is not hokey in anyway and goes a long way to legitimizing these songs as mantras for spiritual understanding. Yeah, that sounded like some new-age shit. Grails are not new-age. They are incredible-age.5. Explosions In the Sky - All Of A Sudden I Miss EveryoneDo you really not know already? Instrumental rock of the highest caliber.
Really, I am disappointed at the lack of love this album had gotten last year. It seemed to be universally slagged as their weakest effort. And while I cant think of any way to reach higher than Moon Is Down or With Tired Eyes, this is still a fantastic album and got voted out over a bunch of bands that aped their style. I'm not naming names, but as a long time fan of this band, it may just be my loyalty, but I really think this album is just beautiful.
6. Bongripper - Hippie KillerMassive psychedelic space rock doom sludge mind fuck.
I mean, come on. How can you go wrong with something with that title? Really, this album is suffocatingly heavy and light as air at the same time. Where did Isis go wrong? This is where its at these days. Ripping bongs, killing hippies and hailing Satan.7. Les Savy Fav - Lets Stay FriendsPost-punk, shake dat azz, hug your hairy fat friends and sweat the hate out.
Damn... best album. By far. This album just does not stop. They did everything right (okay, almost everything - Comes & Goes is just plain forgettable, sorry guys)8. Brainworms - Which is WorseFuck you, this is punk.
Brainworms officially owned with the best show of all last year. I haven't moved like that since 1997 at the VOD OKD (Vision of Disorder / One King Down) show at the QE2 in Albany (or was it 96?). Brainworms remind me exactly why I liked punk in the first place.9. Rosetta - Wake/LiftAstral Sludge. New genre? I think not. Dont go there.
I hate to say it again. But where, oh where, did Isis go wrong?
Check out Rosetta rewriting the books on atmospheric sludge. The ambiance lurking behind every roar is the subtlety that makes this album shine. Not to mention repetitive, ever cycling riffs, propelling past the stratosphere with little regard for gravity's tenacious hold. And the opening song seems like sludgier older brother to the next number on the list...10. Cease Upon the Capitol - s/t EP
Astral Hardcore. Haha... come on you gotta laugh. If some journalist ever uses that as a descriptor then we're all going to hell
CUTC completely rocked me with this ep. I cant say I'm a huge fan of their prior stuff. I mean, its got its moments, but this is an ultimate blend of frantic hardcore craziness with throat shredding vocals and post-rock moodiness that isn't too unlike the Rosetta album above. In fact, if you slowed down this album or sped up the Rosetta album then they might sound quite similar. But as it is, this makes a good breakneck version of some really spacey guitar work.11. Kevin Drew - Spirit if...Indie rock sweetness.
If you like Broken Social Scene (and I do very much) then its pretty much a given that you'll like Kevin Drew. After all, he sings a good portion of the male verses of that bands work. His solo album is a bit more reflective but still using that same trashy endearing manner of speaking. Lines like "too beautiful to fuck" somehow drips with sweetness. In a fucked up world of self obsession, theres something very real about his approach. Dirty enough to stir you up, but sweet enough to keep you listening.12. Meneguar - Strangers in Our HouseDanceable post-punk goodness
I hate to be so simple, but its getting really late, and I typed everything below this before getting back here to number 12. So no offense to you Meneguar, oh ye of strange name. There are so many hooks on this record its hard to pick a favorite, but Scrape and Pull keeps sticking out to me, with herky jerky guitar leads that arent too far removed from their city mates Les Savy Fav. I also hear a little bit of Modest Mouses whammy bar moments and some of Q and Not U's propulsive bass work. All together an infectious record.13. Grinderman - GrindermanDirty trash rock and crooner ballads
It's Nick Cave back at his dirtiest in years. Cave tends to be pretty divisive among underground music fans and I'll admit, it took me a long time to come around to appreciating him. My ex girlfriend loved him in high school and I just thought he was some artsy fartsy goth freak. I was for more concerned with Drive Like Jehu. But years later (and a few relationships later) I find myself strangely drawn to his open heart surgery delivery. I feel like I get him now, and its a treat to be this late to the party and still get to experience Nick doing what he does best. His backing band is amazing too. For this line up its Bad Seeds all the way. Martin Casey, Warren Ellis and Jim Sclavunos (who played drums for Sonic Youth for a short time) bring the hurtin and give Nick room to delightfully damage ears with his squealing guitar attacks.14. Kidcrash - JokesChaotically precise hardcore with proggy and post-rock flavor.
Kidcrash was another hardcore band that just blew minds this year. Rehashing some of their demo songs from last year and actually ratcheting up the tension by at least double, Kidcrash emerge with an incredibly complex far reaching schematic for future hardcore generations.15. Mammatus - The Coast ExplodesPsychedelic Stoner Rock
Pierce the darkness, man, pierce it dude. Right on.16. Souvaris - A HatPost-rock, math rock, ambient
Another album that just wouldnt leave my iPod. I think Nobody Is Fine and Everybody Needs a Drink is one of the best songs of the post-rock genre. I did a review a little while back describing the various passages, and while I wont recount that right here, I will say that I rarely pick apart songs and discuss their various movements. That song makes me feel happy and sad at the same time and it makes me feel completely okay with that duality.17. Sea and Cake - EverybodySaccharine pop goodness
Honestly, this is so poppy and so sunshiney bright in its delivery that it seems very far off from the tense and moody stuff I get my kicks from. But I seriously am in love with this band. This album makes their last album forgivable and also houses some of their best material. As and album I would have to rank this right after Oui. Crisp, clear and crystalline, not unlike the photograph on the cover. You may want to save these guys for summer. Who knows, maybe you'll meet some chicks, and then scare them away trying to explain what the C in Cake means..18. Pinback - Autumn of the SeraphsMore indie pop goodness
Considering that Three Mile Pilot is one of my most favorite bands, it should come as no suprise that I am a huge Pinback fan. Sure, everyone talks about Rob Crowe this and Rob Crowe that, and dont get me wrong, hes incredible, but what about Zach Smith aka Armisted Burwell Smith IV? I feel he often gets overlooked, but hes a giant reason why Pinback is so good. His basslines are some of the most memorable basslines in history. Together with Crowe they create some of the most pointilistic indie rock ever. Like stippled drawings of daily life with ever present darkness lurking in the background.19. Radiohead - In RainbowsDuh
Yeah, I was pretty psyched about this when it came out. I mean, its a new Radiohead record. But once my excitement wore off I didnt return to this place. I am sure I will visit it again and find delight. 15 Step is a great song and Weird Fishes/Arpeggi is a great song (or songs) but I think hype actually got the best of me on this one. OK Computer this is not, and I even think Hail to the Thief is stronger than this. For 5 more bands that couldve filled this slot, see the below section "What Shouldve Made This List". Ive left this as is for posterities sake, cuz as off January 1st I was happy with this list.20. Minsk - The Ritual Fires of AbandonmentMassive Tribal Progressive Sludge
This is one hell of a suffocating record. Spaced out and tribal drumming lurches and launches into a swirling magma pit of psyched out sludge. Great vocals on this one. The singer actually sings which is a nice change from the typical howling known well to this genres fans. The drums are seriously fierce. They stick out, a roiling beacon on a scorched landscape, leading the listener futher into the flames. Its actually nice to take the headphones off after listening to this and realizing that the world still has color and life in it. Then you put the headphones back on and descend the ladder once again.
So, with that all said and done. I'd like to present these two mixes I made for you. The bands are presented in the order I've listed above, which makes for some strange shifts at times (Baroness > Iron & Wine? Yeah) but overall it flows somewhat well and I've been enjoying the mixes with a critical ear and I think they are worth sharing. There are two because in almost every case I had trouble picking just one song to share. I also made some cover art for your iTunes and iPods.
(These are Megaupload files... If this is going to be a problem then maybe I can be persuaded to use a different server, but I am not splitting them to put on a smaller server. So its either this or Gigasize.)
1. Caspian - Moksha
2. Baroness - Isak
3. Iron & Wine - Innocent Bones
4. Grails - Soft Temple
5. Explosions In The Sky - Catastrophe and the Cure
6. Bongripper - Reefer Sutherland
7. Les Savy Fav - Brace Yourself
8. Brainworms - Heart-Shaped Hickey
9. Rosetta - Lift (Part 3)
10. Cease Upon The Capitol - Tracks 9 and 10
11. Kevin Drew - Farewell To The Pressure Kids
12. Meneguar - Scrape & Pull
13. Grinderman - Get It On
14. Kidcrash - Life Was Real. Vital. Important
15. Mammatus - Pierce The Darkness
16. Souvaris - Nobody is Fine and Everybody Needs a Drink
17. The Sea and Cake - Exact to Me
18. Pinback - Good To Sea
19. Radiohead - Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
20. Minsk - White Wings
1. Caspian - Crawlspace
2. Baroness - The Birthing
3. Iron & Wine - Carousel
4. Grails - Silk Road
5. Explosions In The Sky - The Birth and Death of the Day
6. Bongripper - The People Mover
7. Les Savy Fav - Patty Lee
8. Brainworms - Born With A Beard
9. Rosetta - Lift (Part 1)
10. Cease Upon The Capitol - Tracks 5 and 6
11. Kevin Drew - Back Out On The ...
12. Meneguar - Paint You
13. Grinderman - No Pussy Blues
14. Kidcrash - A Conduit Rather Than A Vault
15. Mammatus - Dragon Of The Deep Part Three (Excellent Swordfight)
16. Souvaris - Hand or Finger
17. The Sea and Cake - Crossing Line
18. Pinback - Barnes
19. Radiohead - 15 Step
20. Minsk - Embers
------------------What shouldve made this list?
21. The National - Boxer
This is the album that should truly have displaced Radiohead. In fact, it deserved to be way higher than #19, but ce'st la vie, I only heard it at the end of the year. Beautiful beautiful stuff. Great words and an awesome voice that isnt too different from a slightly more stable Nick Cave (But we like Nick Cave just the way he is)
22. Bitter End - Climate of Fear
Frankly, this should also be on the list, but I dont think it deserves to displace anything other than the Radiohead album. And yes, this present hardcore masterpiece definitely rules harder than In Rainbows. I also heard this too late from Aversionline (thanks!) and it has pretty much owned my skull whenever I felt like I wanted to karate chop my desk in half... which happens about once a week. Sometimes for anger and most times for the sheer delight of destruction whilst listening to NY styled hardcore.
23. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer
This album is a pop clusterfuck of Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Shuggie Otis and Sgt Peppers-era Beatles, on meth-amphetimines, at a dance club, filled with giant stuffed animal versions of famous people...kind of like that Phil Collins video on MTV, but an enjoyable, strangely attractive version of those terrifying images.
24. Giraffes? Giraffes! - More Skin With Milk-Mouth
Math-rock, what a term. I suppose that what G?G! is, and this is another late entry to the list, but a fine example of what two people can do with a drum and a guitar and some odd time signatures. There are some incredible moments on here, and despite my bias towards giraffes, I really think this album stays afloat on its own merit and leads the pack as far as math-rock goes these days. Unless you consider Russian Cirles math-rock...which I dont... but this notion is really unimportant. More Skin With Milk-Mouth shows a promising band on the rise. Lets hope they get the recognition they deserve this year.
25. Okkervil River - The Stage Hands
This album, yet another late entry, has the particular nagging feeling that I will probably be listening to this album far more as the years go on. Theres is something really mature and unpretentious about the vocal delivery. The lyrics are great and I keep thinking of The Cure, who I always wanted to like more than I do, and somehow I think The Stage Hands fixes whatever may have been missing for me to enjoy that massively recognizable band. Well, I guess that means I'm saying that I like Okkervil River more than The Cure, and I feel okay about that.
------------------What wouldve made the list if it were longer?
------------------Nadja - Radiance of Shadows / Touched / Thaumogenesis
Awesome ambient doominess. Like Godflesh on quaaludes. Yes, that description is incredibly tongue in cheek. It's also entirely true. Three albums in one year, plus a few more an Aiden Baker doesnt seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.Maps - We Can Create
Electro-poppiness that I really did not like at first. Somehow it caught me at the right time, and its actually a really good record. Its no my usual style, but when the mood strikes it fits nice.Lifetime - s/t
Lifetime, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... 1. Background, 2. Tinnitus, 3. Hello Bastards, 4. Jerseys Best Dancers, 5. self-titled.
Switch Background with Hello Bastards and thats my rundown of Lifetime albums from best to least-best.Kongh - Counting Heartbeats
Disgustingly harsh swedish doom. Very proggy and tribal, also very scary. This is a pretty challenging record due to its song times running past 10 minutes every track, but if youve got the masochism to sit and listen to it all the way through, then you will be rewarded.Johnnytwentythree - JXXIII
For being the second best rip-off of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, you earn quite a few points in the post-rock camp. (The first rip-off is Yndi Halda, and yes they are very good too, better in fact)Graf Orlock - Destination Time: Tomorrow
Who doesnt like grind? Well, to bad for you, cuz Graf Orlock (named after the vampire in Nosferatu) is ready to eviscerate you with no remorse. What? You dont like being torn limb from limb? Pussies. (anyone catch the Slayer reference?....eh)Escapado - Initiale
Germany produces its answer to Envy and Daitro and frankly comes out a little in front. Yeah. I know you all get juiced over Envy, they aiite.Earthless - Rhythms From a Cosmic Sky
I was raised on classic rock. Thank my parents (or blame them, youre choice), but I have never been able to ignore anything that sounds like a time capsule of the 60's and 70's. Well, this isnt really classic rock in any traditional sense. Just two 20 minute mega jams of psyched out nostalgia. The funniest part is the drummer is Mario Rubalcalba - ex pro skateboarder, and ex drummer for (ready, this is a long list) 411, Metroschifter, Clikatat Ikatowi, Thingy, The Blackheart Procession, Pinback, Hot Snakes, Rocket From the Crypt and now Earthless? I dont follow. But I do. If you catch my drift. A+ Mario.Dungen - Tio Bitar
More psychedelic nostalgia for dat azz.Do Make Say Think - You, You're A History In Rust
Though not my favorite of their and at times slightly disappointing, History In Rust still has moments of absolute stunning musicianship. Its sort of a new style for them and if they can hone this properly than they'll have a new lease on life.Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond
Pretty great return to form for Mascis and Barlow and Murph. At first my favorite song was written by Lou Barlow, but I think Crumble, which is out-n-out J is the clear winner. I came to the Dino Jr. party late, but it occurs to me that a good portion of things I listen to owe their life to Dino Jr. So conisder this my repentance.The Clientele - God Save the Clientele
Im not a huge brit-pop fan. But these guys just get right in my head. Something soft and subtle for particularly whimsical moments of fleeting joy. I want it to snow when I listen to this. In fact, I want to walk through the snow while listening to this.
------------------What couldnt make the list due to self imposed regulations?
------------------Ampere - First Five Years
As the title states, this is a retrospective of the Amherst bands short career, viewed through the medium of 7"s and EP's and the obligatory demo. While I have had most of these songs, they are presented here with much better mixes and thus listening to the intricacies of Will Killingsworths guitar trickery is just that much more exciting.Ampere/Daitro Split 7"
As a 7" I can't rightfully put it up against a bunch of full albums. Especially since it would probably beat a lot of them out. I jammed this 7" a ton this summer. The artwork is fantastic and it represents the best of both bands.Junius - s/t
Another retrospective of sorts. Junius collects their two previous EPs on this disc. Spanning back to 2004, it is clear this band has taken great strides in the post-rock realm. Add to that the amazing vocals and their new EP The Fires of Antediluvia and I think we'll have an obvious shoe in for a best of 08 record. That is of course if they relase a new record. Which they better. Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today
Was this really released in '07? I mean, what the fuck, Jus? Did you smoke too much pot and forget to release this until the very last minute? Tell me, I want to know, because this album couldve easily fit on the 07 list, but now it might seem awkward to put in on the '08 list. Regardless, Witchcult Today is another band returning to fine form. Jus' vocals are tops on this record and the vintage feel is a nice direction.Pusher - s/t
I know very little of this. I heard of it through Aversionline and it involves members from National Acrobat, Coliseum and Lords. All incredible Louisville bands. I guess this is a discography of their very short career? I dont know, man, its like 12 minutes long and its the best damn 12 minutes of punk hardcore I have heard in years. But I feel it cant be put on an 07 list of its just a reissue or a disco. Nonetheless, these guys created something fierce and you should do everything to get this.Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
One of the best albums ever made. But its from 1988.Rain - La Vache Qui Rit
One of the best album ever made. It was recorded in 1986, released in 1990, and re-released this year. One of the best examples of mid 80's Dischord punk. Epic ex and future members in this band.On The Might Of Princes - Where You Are and Where You Want To Be
Originaly released in 2002, this re-release gives a better mix of some the best emotive songs in recent times. Think Mineral & early Sunny Day Real Estate.Boris & Merzbow - Rock Dream
An awesome live set of Boris doing some of their best songs, including a 35 minute version of Feedbacker. Everything has subtle touches of electronic schizophrenia spread all over it by fellow countryman Merzbow.
------------------And, the serious letdowns?
------------------Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Seriously, WTF? No Cars Go was great though, But it was also written before Funeral.Battles - Mirrored
I have no idea WHY people are flipping over this. I think it sucks, big time. Are people just that desperate for something different? EP C & B EP were both pretty cool and while I'm sure this is in line with where they were going, its a ride I am happy I got off early.Bloc Party - Weekend In the City
Terrible. I liked half their last album alot. I like absolutely none of this album.Interpol - Our Love to Admire
One of my favorite bands, and while this isnt as bad as the rest of the stuff in this section, it is easily and by far their worst record. I cant think of a song I dont love off their previous albums, and I can only think of one or two I really like on this one. Sad.Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
I have been immensely into this band for quite sometime, and the last album hinted to me that maybe they had run their course, but then they came out with this and they are even bigger than before, and I'm not yelling "sellout" but I just cant get into any of this album. What happened to you guys?!Pissed Jeans - Hope For Men
I saw them play with Boris and was pretty psyched at their painful Jesus Lizard lurch and quickly acquired Shallow, their first album. I had high hopes for a new band, and this just didn't deliver for me.Shellac - Excellent Italian Greyhound
End of Radio is pretty amazing. The rest is forgettable. Then again, I havent really been into Shellac since Terraform.
I spent almost 4 hours making this post. Dayam! its 2.56am. I turned 31 yesterday. Its feels okay.
PS. Thanks to everyone who comes and visits, leaves comments, and starts blogs. You make this all worth it. Special thanks to my blog pals who keep things going on their pages when things fall flat here.
PPS. If you made it this far, either you need help, or I need help.